I own a small business, and I try to treat my staff very well. How can I keep them from taking things for granted or not appreciating them at all?
I’m like anyone else. If I spend a lot of money, or do something big, and it doesn’t have an impact or people aren’t grateful, it hurts my feelings. In those kinds of situations, as a business owner or just a regular guy, I’d rather keep my money and not get my feelings hurt. I don’t whine if things like that don’t work out as expected. But I do sometimes teach on the attribute of gratefulness in team meetings.
We’ve tried hard to make this company a great place to work. We do things that lots of other organizations don’t, so expecting a little appreciation isn’t out of line. We buy lunch for our entire team a few times each month, and we also have a great profit sharing plan, among other things. When something like this is coming up we make a big, fun deal out of it, so that it doesn’t become routine. If it ever gets to the point where these things are taken for granted, then we’ll stop doing them and put the money somewhere else.
To me, ungratefulness is one of the worst character traits. If you think this attitude is becoming a problem, just talk to your team straight up about the situation. There’s no need to call anyone out personally, but make your feelings very clear. It’s your job as a leader to give your people a great work environment. And if you’re a member of someone’s team, and you appreciate what your leaders do, you should act like it!
I’m not a business owner or in management where I work, but your EntreLeadership book was inspiring. Do you have any advice for how I can influence upper management at my company?
Here are a couple of ideas you could try. I’m never insulted when someone brings me a book they love on leadership. My team knows I’m always reading and learning, and I just look at instances like that as another opportunity to learn something new.
The second thing would be for you to take whatever has inspired you and put it to use in the areas of your job, and your life, that you can control. People notice that kind of stuff on the job. It makes you stand out from the crowd, and if folks ask you about it, you’ll have a chance to teach them what you’ve learned. You could end up being a virus that infects the entire company in a very good way!
I have a young employee who’s struggling financially. I don’t really see him outside work, but I’d like to introduce him to your plan because it helped me. As his boss, would it be inappropriate to approach him about this and try to help?
My advice is to look at it this way. If you were in his shoes, would you want someone to care enough to try and help you? I think we both know the answer to that, but you have to be sure you approach this young man the right way.
If you come in as Mr. Know-It-All, you’re probably going to turn him off immediately. Just be genuine, and don’t get too deep into his business. Maybe you could share a book with him, and let him know about some of the problems you had before. It could just be a friendly gesture, and make sure he understands it’s not something you’re requiring of him as his boss. Then, if a wall goes up, you just back off. Just because he doesn’t jump at the idea immediately doesn’t mean a seed won’t take root.
Leaders in business who care about their team are real leaders. So, congratulations, Les. In my book, you’re a real leader!
* Dave Ramsey is America’s most trusted voice on money and business. He’s authored four New York Times best-selling books: Financial Peace, More Than Enough, The Total Money Makeover and EntreLeadership. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 5 million listeners each week on more than 500 radio stations. Follow Dave on Twitter at @DaveRamsey and on the web at daveramsey.com.